Should you let your dog kiss you?

Madeline Tallman, special to

WASHINGTON – For lovers of canine companions, one may be getting more than just unconditional affection from those sloppy dog kisses.

A new study published in the journal Archives of Oral Biology found that dog owners had a higher rate of a certain disease-causing bacteria in their mouths. So those who are turned off by the sticky mess may have more evidence to back their stance.

Japanese researchers examined dental plaque from 66 dogs and 81 people who came to an animal clinic or training school in 2011.

They found “periodontopathic bacteria” — the microscopic little guys that can make someone (or some pet) more susceptible to diseases in the mouth and around the teeth — in more than 70 percent of the dogs.

In the people, the researchers found that between 16 percent and 30 percent of them also had the germs.

But humans weren’t the only victims. Researchers found that exchanges of germs went just as easily from owner to dog as dog to owner.

“These results suggest that several periodontopathic species could be transmitted between humans and their companion dogs, though the distribution of periodontopathic species in both is generally different,” the researchers wrote in the study.

Remember that next time Scruffy shows some love.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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